WWE has just bodyslammed the woke left.
In the latest broadcast Tuesday of NXT 2.0, which showcases the up-and-coming pro wrestling stars from its developmental system, WWE introduced a character called Joe Gacy, who immediately raised the eyebrows of fans in the arena and the TV audience when he started spouting some of the trademark rhetoric of the woke left.
“Tonight this ring is a safe space,” Gacy said, sitting in a folding chair in the middle of the ring, the spotlight solely on him. “NXT 2.0 is full of conflict, from the smallest microaggression to the most heinous grudges. This is a place where we settle our differences. I come to you tonight with a mindset of conflict resolution where I don’t need to use my male privilege to get what I want.”
A smattering of boos could be heard from the fans in attendance at the Capitol Wrestling Center in Orlando, Fla. It was unclear whether they found Gacy or his message offensive or if they objected to politics invading their pro wrestling/sports-entertainment “safe space.” But Gacy was undeterred as the camera zoomed in. His smile dripped with something that wasn’t quite sincerity as he finished his monologue.
“I understand just like you that life isn’t fair,” he continued. “I believe that we can achieve unity and tolerance for us all, and I can be the man that will show you we can achieve peace in this safe space. And it starts tonight!”
Confused? That was probably by design and the NXT announcing team drove that message home with their own bewilderment over Gacy’s message.
“That made no sense to me whatsoever,” said Wade Barrett, an NXT commentator and former WWE wrestler. “I’ve snapped my arm in that ring. I’ve separated a shoulder. I’ve broken my nose more times than I can count. That ring is anything but safe.”
However, Gacy’s words turned out to be just words once the bell rang. Despite flashes of promise, he was pinned in less than five minutes by his opponent, Cameron Grimes. Gacy insisted on hugging a befuddled Grimes after the match. The quiet crowd seemed less than impressed.
“This guy looks at the world a little differently than you or I, which is not necessarily a bad thing,” Barrett said. “It remains to be seen whether it will work for Gacy.”
It’s unclear whether Joe Gacy will return or if he is a one-time WWE experiment. Critics may argue WWE may be attempting to generate some headlines as rival promotion AEW (All Elite Wrestling) has created loads of buzz with critically acclaimed shows, ratings victories in the key 18-49 demographic and recent high-profile signings of a string of former WWE stars.
Vince McMahon, WWE chairman and CEO, has a history of capitalizing on politically charged issues. At the height of tensions between the U.S. and Iran and the Soviet Union in the 1980s, the Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff became WWE’s most hated villains as they spewed anti-American rhetoric, waved the flags of America’s enemies and demanded fans respect the singing of the Soviet national anthem. In 1990, as the Gulf War began, WWE’s most despised star was Sgt. Slaughter, whose in-ring character had turned his back on the U.S. and had become an Iraqi sympathizer.
In recent years, McMahon has avoided mixing politics and sports entertainment. His wife, Linda McMahon’s, role as administrator of the Small Business Administration under President Trump never infiltrated WWE programming. Trump’s past involvement in WWE and membership in its hall of fame have been downplayed. McMahon’s mantra has been to provide fans an escape from the everyday and put “out smiles on people’s faces.”
However, after the debut of Joe Gacy, the woke left may not be smiling too much.
Bryan Robinson is a senior editor at Fox News Digital.